Android warning: These apps may be tracking your behaviour and draining your battery life

Android warning

Android is Google’s mobile operating platform that runs on devices across the globe (Image: Getty • Google)

Android is Google’s mobile operating platform that runs on devices across the globe.

In fact, most smartphones that are not manufactured by Apple Inc employ a version of Android.

However, a new report from BuzzFeed News has issued a warning to users against eight applications it claims have been “engaging in fraudulent ad practises”.

Seven of the apps in question are owned by Chinese company Cheetah Mobile while the other is owned by Kika Tech.

The former is a publicly-traded firm while the other is based in Silicon Valley.

BuzzFeed News insisted the allegations were a result of new evidence from app analytics company Kochava that claimed the software in question was taking advantage of developer fees.

Essentially, app developers pay money to others responsible for helping to increase downloads of their respective software.

But Kochava claimed it had reason to believe both Cheetah and Kika had been tracking when users had downloaded new apps and then falsely insisted they had caused the download, taking developer cash.

This means both firms are alleged to have received payments for services they have not provided.

Combined, both Cheetah and Kika claim to have over 700million people taking advantage of their software every month.

Cheetah’s apps that are said to be engaging in such behaviour are Clean Master, CM File Manager, CM Launcher 3D, Security Master, Battery Doctor, CM Locker, and Cheetah Keyboard while the Kika app in question is Kika Keyboard.

The Cheetah software requires users to give permission to see when new apps are downloaded and opened by a user, it was explained.

Once it has been detected new software has been installed the Cheetah app it will see if there are fees available to those that help incite downloads.

If there is, it will then send off relevant information to ensure it obtains the money.

Meanwhile, the Kika Keyboard app was claimed to asks users for permission to see what is being typed.

This is then used to see what Android fans are searching for when they enter the Google Play Store, according to Kochava.

Kika Keyboard will then see if apps related to those that have been searched for offer payments in exchange for inciting downloads.

The app was then claimed to “generate a series of clicks” and send off information to falsely claim money.

BuzzFeed News explained such actions not only “diverts revenue away from legitimate publishers and developers”, but it can also negatively impact user battery life thanks to increased device activity.

Moreover, the delivery of information was also said to impact phone data usage, too.

Following BuzzFeed News’ initial report, Cheetah’s CM Locker and Battery Doctor apps were removed from the Google Play Store.

However, in a statement from the Chinese firm it was insisted such a move was not taken because of the outlet’s report.

Cheetah said it had: “temporarily removed Battery Doctor and CM Locker from the Google Play Store on our own initiative. CM Locker has been re-launched already, and Battery Doctor will be re-launched very soon.”

When questioned about the app behaviour in question, the company said it was investigating the matter but appeared to deny any purposeful wrongdoing.

Android warning

Eight Android apps have been claimed to be ‘engaging in fraudulent ad practises’ (Image: Getty)

It went on: “We work with many mainstream ad platforms via SDK integration. We request ads via SDK from these ad platforms and display their ads. We have no control over the behaviour of these SDKs.

“Ad platforms and independent arbitration parties work together to decide attribution of app installations, and we are not part of that process.

“We are continuing to look into the matter and will update you if we have any further information.”

And a statement from Marc Richardson, the US general manager for Kika Tech, emphasised the firm “has no intentions of engaging in fraudulent practices”.

Richardson added: “Kika Keyboard is a large, well-known app that helps its users communicate in many unique ways and we are extremely disappointed to learn about these ‘flooding and injection’ practices.

“We appreciate you putting this to our attention.”

Android warning

The actions discussed can negatively impact user battery life, it was claimed (Image: Getty)

Kika’s CEO, Bill Hu, declared the firm is investigating the “critical issues” discovered by Kochava.

He declared: “At this time, Kika is extensively researching the critical issues you raised internally.

“If in fact, code has been placed inside our product we will do everything to quickly and fully rectify the situation and take action against those involved.

“For now, we do not have further comments as we begin our internal research.”


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